The Dancing Doctor

Michaela Snow, OMS I, at her grandfather’s family practice. (Photo by Austin Brink of Broncos Country Connected Dec. 21, 2021)
Written by Catherine Lewis Saenz
Edited by Kelli Petersen, MBA

From an early age, Michaela Snow, OMS I, knew she wanted to become a physician. The first spark of inspiration came from her grandfather, a family medicine physician, who introduced her to his daily work of helping and treating patients when she was a young girl. That inspiration, combined with the support of her family, has helped her overcome some of the most challenging moments, such as applying to medical school. “I’m grateful for my grandfather who is a role model to me in life and in medicine. I am also thankful for my family’s undying support throughout my journey in pursuing both dreams God placed in front of me.”

Another member of SD Snow’s family who has motivated her in her pursuit of a career in medicine has been her grandmother, who she warmly refers to as Nana, and who experienced health issues while SD Snow was growing up. “I think I always saw the glamorized version of medicine – the white coat, the stethoscope, [changing lives and helping people] – but to [help] my own family filled my heart with a new kind of motivation. I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do.”

When asked what the biggest piece of advice her grandfather has given her, SD Snow said it is to “enjoy the little victories.” She describes her journey thus far as “hills and valleys the whole way, and that never stops in medicine.” Even when it’s right after taking an exam, she’ll celebrate that victory, then sit down and prepare for the next one.

SD Snow and her grandfather, Joseph Matarazzo, DO. (Photo by Austin Brink of Broncos Country Connected Dec. 21, 2021)

Running parallel to her ambition to become a physician is her love for dancing. Currently, SD Snow juggles a packed schedule of lectures and labs as a medical student followed by practice with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders, a day that begins at eight in the morning and ends at eleven at night. “I fell in love with dance when I was six years old and made it a goal of mine to one day become a Denver Broncos Cheerleader. In the NFL, the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders is one of the most prestigious teams. I worked as hard as I could in high school and college to [audition and make the team]. [At the same time], I also knew I wanted to become a doctor, so thought to myself: why not try for the title of dancing doctor?”

While the original plan was to dance with the Denver Broncos cheerleading squad for two years and then attend medical school, the pandemic and the grinding halt it brought to sports arenas left her feeling like her job was unfinished. After several conversations with RVU administrators, she decided to do both dancing and medical school. Furthermore, dancing for SD Snow has also had the added benefit of improving her memory “because I have a creative outlet [through dancing],” she shared. However, SD Snow’s creative outlet may soon take the form of pursuing research opportunities and even joining one of RVU’s specialized education tracks. “I really want to do research. That’s something that is important to me,” she said. Most recently, SD Snow was accepted into RVUCOM’s Physician-Scientist Track, a specialized educational program where students can expect to become proficient in experimental design, data analysis, the research grant process, and presentation skills.

After medical school and residency, and in an ideal world, SD Snow would like to come back take over her grandfather’s practice, which he’s overseen for over 50 years. “He sees a lot of patients that desperately need him. I don’t know how long he’s going to practice for, and I have to kind of take it as it comes because you don’t always get to pick.” That sentiment also applies to her dancing with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders. For now, “it’s fun to be a part of changing [the perception others have of cheerleaders],” she said.

If you wish to view the video segment about Michaela Snow, RVU student and Denver Broncos’ cheerleader, on the official Denver Broncos website, click the link here (her segment begins at the 16:00 mark).

Denver Broncos photography by Rob Hawthorne, Adam Bratton, and Laura Murray.

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